The making of Mitchell - the middle
Still a bit vague on the timing of things, I think it was right after I started on the Oxytocin that Mum showed up to the delivery suite. At first I wasn't sure how I felt about having Mum in the room. I was a bit uncomfortable with the idea of her seeing me in pain and full of various tubes. But she was very enthusiastic about being present for at least part of the process of her child having a child, and she promised to only stay until things got yucky. In the end, it was fantastic having her there - she didn't seem half as concerned about my discomfort as when she'd seen me fight in a karate promotion - probably because there wasn't a team of medical staff present at my karate promotion.
Incidentally, one of the reasons I keep making karate analogies is because so far in my life, there have been two major yardsticks of pain and discomfort - giving birth and getting a black belt. And yes, giving birth is more difficult, but a lot safer.
It took about half an hour for me to feel the first contractions come on. I finally realised the difference between the pre-labour cramps I'd been having for a couple of weeks and the real thing. It's like the difference between a tension headache and a full-blown, going-blind-and-throwing-up migraine. I felt it in my belly, in my back and mostly down my legs. I automatically took deep, slow breaths as each one came on, and quickly realised how little that helped! I found myself getting quite ecstatic every time a contraction faded, because the relief was so intense.
After about thirty minutes of contractions, I felt no further need to be brave, and asked for the epidural to start. And that was about as close to real magic as I'm prepared to believe exists. The drugs made the pain disappear completely. I could still feel tension in my belly and my legs when contractions came on, but there was no pain at all. I started to feel so relaxed that I really don't remember much of the next few hours. I may have slept - I'm not sure. I know Mum left around about that time, and a couple of hours later, after an examination confirmed that I was 5cm dilated, hubby took leave to go to the gym around the corner for an hour or so.
It only felt like a few minutes later that the epidural started wearing off, but I'm sure it was much longer. I called hubby to make sure he was on his way back as the contractions started becoming uncomfortable again. Doctors and midwives came and went and made various "hmmm"-ing noises, and at some point hubby returned to his capable-hand-holder role. After another examination it was disovered that I'd dilated to 9cm - quicker than expected! The down-side of that discovery was the decision not to top up the epidural any further, as the second stage of labour was just around the corner.
It struck me ever so briefly that it was nearly time to push, and that after pushing came a real, three-dimensional baby! In between contractions I became quite excited and amazed that the little squirmy bump I'd been chatting to for a few months was going to be outside soon. I also became a bit impatient as the drugs wore off and the contractions felt stronger and stronger. Alison, the slightly grumpy midwife and I tried putting me in different positions to aid my comfort and that of Fetie, and we found that anything except lying on my back made Fetie's heart rate a little erratic. It was fairly entertaining, if a little difficult, trying to experiment with my position whilst I was unable to move my legs at all. Thank goodness for a big strong husband trained in lifting people!
Pretty soon I started to feel something new - a strong urge to go to the loo, or so I thought. I simply assumed that's what it was, because there hadn't been any need for Number Two since early that morning. I ignored it for about 15 minutes, until Alison the Slightly Grumpy Midwife said, "let me know if you feel like you need to do a pooh". So I did. Let her know, that is. And that's when Dr Nichols and Tania-the-Registrar were summoned for the (cue dramatic music) Second Stage of Labour, otherwise known as the pushy-pushy bit. I simply couldn't believe it had come around so fast! Ok, so it had been about 9 hours, but it felt fast after all those lovely drugs.
To be continued...